Solicitor General Jose Calida urged opposition lawmakers belonging to the House “Magnificent 7” bloc who filed a petition seeking to stop the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao to concede to the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration as constitutional.
“The extension of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for one year is not only factual but more importantly, compelling,” Calida said in a statement on Sunday.
The petitioners, led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the re-extension pending adjudication of their petition.
The other petitioners are Representatives Tomasito Villarin, Edgar Erice, Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr., Gary Alejano and Emmanuel Billones.
In their petition, the lawmakers asked why the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao was “inordinately longer” than the original proclamation that limited the declaration to only 60 days.
“A full year re-extension, aside from being factually unwarranted, is oppressively long and patently unconstitutional,” the petitioners said.
“He should concede that the Supreme Court already decided that the martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus covered the entire Mindanao,” Calida said, referring to Lagman.
Calida said there was no provision in the 1987 Constitution that limited the period of extension to only 60 days.
“The 1987 Constitution vested Congress with the authority to extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus for a period to be determined by it. The only criteria: that the invasion of rebellion shall persist and that public safety requires it,” Calida added.
“This is a political question as it is a controversy which revolves around policy choices and value determinations constitutionally committed to the executive or legislative branches for resolution,” he added.
Defending the extension of the iron rule, Calida called the argument of the opposition lawmakers “asinine,” or in other words, “stupid.”
“The argument that this rebellion can be quelled in 60 days is asinine,” he said.
While Marawi City was already liberated by the state troops last October, Calida said there was still an “on-going” rebellion in Mindanao.
“In fact, the rebellion staged by various secessionists, jihadists, terrorists and communist groups in various places in Mindanao has been festering for several decades now. The argument that this rebellion can be quelled in 60 days is asinine,” Calida said.
“Anyone who doubts the necessity of the extension should visit the various strongholds of the rebellious groups scattered all over Mindanao and see for himself their awesome armaments and the cadres of combatants whose avowed missions are to overthrow the government or to carve out provinces away from the sovereignty of the Philippines,” he added.
Calida also dared the opposition lawmakers to visit the strongholds of the rebel groups to see for themselves the “awesome armaments” and the “cadres of combatants” to be used to bring down the government.
In a 240-27 vote, both chambers of Congress voted to approve Duterte’s request to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.